Are Running Rivers of Living Water Running Through You? (Article 19-16)
The world is increasingly becoming a barren desert and as a result, people are dying of thirst. I’m not talking about the nearly 1 billion people in the world who suffer from water scarcity. I’m talking about the living waters that Christ promises to be in our innermost being that we, as believers, may drink and never again be thirsty. The thirst I talk to is a spiritual matter and not a matter concerning the physical world. On the last day of the Passover Feast, Christ cried out to those who were present 37…“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38).
Christ’s Words are Both Convicting and Hope-Producing. When you read Jesus’ words here, where He promises that from the innermost being of the one who believes in Him will flow rivers of living water, you have to stop and ask, “To what extent is that true of me? Since I trusted in Christ as my Savior, has it been my experience that ever-flowing, abundant rivers of living water have gushed up inside of me and flowed out of me?” These two questions are both convicting and hope-producing, are they not? They are convicting because most of us, if we’re honest, can say, “That’s exactly how to describe my life since becoming a Christian!” Honesty forces me to say, “Well, there has usually been a trickle of living water, with some droughts where even it has dried up.” We may also say, “Well there occasionally, been a creek of living water. But ever-flowing, abundant rivers (plural)”? It would be a stretch to describe my Christian life like that. So Jesus’ words convict me with the barrenness of my walk with Him. But Jesus’ words also give me hope. If my life doesn’t match His description here, it can. But how?
We Must First Thirst. Jesus says “IF” anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. The word “IF” convicts me to ask the question whether or not I genuinely thirst for Christ and His righteousness. If the answer is yes, then I can confidently conclude that I place Christ in the center of my being for guidance and direction and answers concerning all matters in my life. If the answer is no, then how is it logical that I should expect to experience His fullness, which includes the flowing rivers of living water? So the question is not a matter of believing in Christ as much as whether you “thirst” for His presence. To thirst for Christ means that you acknowledge that apart from Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Do believe this to be true? If you find yourself saying “kind of or sometimes believing ” I believe it to be true, then is it fair to have expectations of full and flowing rivers of water running through you? At best, I think it is only fair to conclude that the flowing living rivers that Christ speaks should be a trickle or just drops of living water. In sum, the degree to which the living waters flow is proportional to the degree of our dependence on Christ. Christ requires that He be in the center of our life, not on the side-line. To come to Jesus is to come to the One who loved us so much that He came to this wicked earth and suffered the horrors of the cross to pay for our sins. That’s what drinking of Jesus means, as the parallel comment in verse 38 makes clear: “He who believes in Me".
Becoming a Source of Living Water for Others. Note at the end of verse 38, Christ says “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” The living waters that Christ supplies us exceeds what we need. He provides so much living water in us that it overflows and pours out of us. This may seem wasteful, but it is not. The overflow is not intended to spill out on the ground as waste water, but rather onto others. It is by way of the overflowing of the living waters that Christ provides that others can experience Christ and His blessings. The overflow also speaks to our calling to be disciples by way of the Holy Spirit. Jesus supplies us with the abundant, soul-satisfying rivers of living water of His Spirit, which in turn, which is intended to reveal to others the riches of Christ for their every need.
Conclusion. What should we do in response to Jesus’ promise here? First, honestly, assess the degree to which “rivers of living water flowing from our innermost being” describes ourselves. If it doesn’t describe us at all, then we must make some adjustments in our relationship with Christ. We must make Him the center of our life for all things. Living a Christ-centric life requires that we get our focus off ourselves and onto Him, then and only then to those we can lead to Christ. We must be convicted to do so, but also remain hopeful in knowing what Christ promises is true. If we genuinely believe Christ’s promise of flowing rivers of living water will from our hearts to be true, then His promise becomes a reality instead of remaining a mystery.